The FAA is completely transforming air traffic control from a ground-based system of radars to a satellite-based system through the Next Generation (NextGen) Air Transportation System Integrated National Plan. NextGen is critically important because the current system will not be able to handle traffic that is expected to increase to one billion passengers by 2015 and double current levels by 2025.
Planning and implementing NextGen is being carried out by a unique public/private partnership called the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). The JPDO is made up of representatives from the Departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, the FAA, NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It is also supported, through the JPDO, by a wide range of aviation experts from across the private sector.
This month the JPDO has delivered its annual report to Congress on progress in making the transition to NextGen.
The JPDO is developing the Concept of Operations (ConOps), an Enterprise Architecture and the Integrated Work Plan (IWP) for NextGen.
- The ConOps describes how NextGen will work in 2025 and what it will look like from various stakeholders’ perspectives. This is important in developing the structure, policy and procedures necessary to make NextGen a reality. The first draft of the ConOps was completed last August. The initial baseline of the ConOps (version 2.0) will be completed this spring and will address the full scope of NextGen operations.
- The Enterprise Architecture is much like a set of blueprints. It defines the key capabilities of NextGen and how they fit together. A version of the Enterprise Architecture that is synchronized with ConOps version 2.0 will be published this spring.
- The Integrated Work Plan (IWP) complements the ConOps and Enterprise Architecture by providing the programmatic and funding details of the transition to NextGen. The initial baseline of the IWP will be available in mid summer of this year.
- These three documents will be used as guides to our planning, implementing and funding of Next Gen.
The following is a summary of our progress in implementing some of the major technologies that will form the underlying structure of NextGen.
- Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADSB). ADS-B, a satellite-based technology that broadcasts aircraft identification, position and speed with once-per-second updates, is the backbone of NextGen. A national ADS-B program office has been established. The Capstone program in Alaska, which uses ADS-B in a non-radar environment, has resulted in a 40% drop in general aviation accidents. A partnership with the helicopter industry will bring ADS-B to the Gulf of Mexico in December 2009. United Parcel Service has outfitted a fleet of 300 aircraft with ADS-B for use at its Louisville hub, with similar services planned for Philadelphia. The airline is seeing a 30% reduction in noise and a 34% decline in emissions for ADS-B-equipped aircraft. The contract to deploy the ADS-B system was awarded to ITT on August 30. A notice of proposed rulemaking with a timeline for avionics was issued October 1 and a public comment period is in effect until January 3, 2008.
- Required Navigation Performance (RNP). RNP is a set of standards that measure location accuracy in the airspace. Increased navigational precision by aircraft can reduce spacing – and thus increase capacity, especially at congested airports – without compromising safety. Substantial progress with RNP has been made to date, and a total of at least 200 RNP approach procedures are expected by 2011.
- Safety Management System (SMS). The safety programs of the next generation must evolve from traditional post-accident data analysis to a more integrated evaluation. SMS will improve the collection and analysis of safety data to identify emerging threats and thus prevent future accidents.
- Continuous Descent Approach (CDA). CDA is a procedure that optimizes the aircraft approach from the beginning of its descent to touch-down. With CDA, noise and emission levels are substantially reduced. The JPDO will be working with several airports to implement CDA for night operations. A demonstration of CDA in a practical environment is one of the JPDO’s 2007 objectives.
Over the next five years, the FAA’s investment portfolio for NextGen – key investments that will enable the transformation to a satellite-based system to take place – will require an estimated $4.6 billion. That total is made up of $4.3 billion in Air Traffic Organization capital and $300 million in research. These funds are provided in the President’s FY 08 budget.
Of the $4.3 billion, $3 billion is for efforts that will be initiated over the next five years. An estimated $1.3 billion would be directed to ongoing programs that directly support NextGen.
Based on the current NextGen plan, major investments are also expected for the period from fiscal year 2013 to FY 2017. Total FAA spending over the first ten years is expected to range from $8 billion to $10 billion, and estimates through 2025 range from $15 billion to $22 billion in FAA investments.
The FAA will continuously refine these estimates, working closely with our users as we implement new cost-based financing mechanisms. These are presented in the agency’s financing reform proposal, enactment of which is critical to the successful transformation of the nation’s airspace system.
For more, see the report Making the NextGen Vision a Reality.
Video Clip: Performance-Based Navigation: RNAV and RNP (6:47 minutes)